When a patient is experiencing shoulder pain, it is important to differentiate between simply being sore due to physical activity and pain that has occurred because of a pathologic, structural issue or because of an orthopedic injury.
There is a difference in simply being sore due to exercise and other, more pressing shoulder issues. Some soreness after a workout or other physical activity is okay. If you are sore for 2 to 5 days after the activity, treating with pain medication such as anti-inflammatories, ice and rest can often help resolve the issue. If, however, your pain lasts more than 3 to 5 days or is reproducible with one specific activity or movement, making an appointment with your doctor is important.
If you are experiencing prolonged sharp pain in your shoulder, decreased range of motion or other symptoms related to a fall or injury, Memorial Hermann Joint Centers offer treatment options structured around your needs. With medication, physical therapy and even surgical modalities of treatment, our team and facilities can provide you with a therapeutic approach to manage and treat your shoulder pain.
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Your shoulder complex is composed of several layers, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Bones in the Shoulder
The bones in the shoulder are the clavicle (collarbone), scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm).
Joints are where movement occurs and include the sternoclavicular joint, the acromioclavicular (AC) joint and the shoulder joint (glenohumeral), which is a ball-and-socket joint. This joint facilitates the movement of your shoulder.
Ligaments in the Shoulder
Ligaments are white, shiny bands of fibrous tissue that hold joints together. They connect various bones together. One ligament group, the joint capsule, helps to stabilize your shoulder.
Tendons, Muscles and Rotator Cuff
Tendons are tough cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone. The rotator cuff tendons are a major group that connect the deepest layer of muscles to your upper arm bone. These muscles, including the rotator cuff, facilitate movement of your shoulder.
All of these components work together to give you range of motion and allow you to go about your daily life. Many of these structures can be damaged due to acute injury such as a fall, dislocation or a tear due to exertion or use.
Types of Shoulder Pain
Because of the number of structures in the shoulder, pain can develop in many different ways. Muscles, ligaments or tendons can become inflamed or tear due to overuse or exertion. Bones in the shoulder can break as a result of a fall or other acute event. In addition, chronic pain can develop because of underlying conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Diagnosing Shoulder Pain
When you visit your doctor due to prolonged shoulder pain, talk about the type of pain and duration. Your physician will likely perform a physical exam to isolate specific muscle groups to determine if there is an injury, such as with your rotator cuff or biceps tendon. Because of the large amount of soft tissue present in the shoulder, you will likely need an MRI for a more concrete diagnosis.
Treating Shoulder Pain
There are a variety of effective treatments for shoulder pain depending on the severity and location of the injury or problem. These range from simple activity modification and application of ice to the area to physical therapy and even surgery. In many cases, starting with a conservative treatment will allow the shoulder pain to heal without engaging in more invasive techniques. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations to avoid making the problem worse.
Contact Memorial Hermann Joint Centers
Living with serious shoulder pain can affect the quality of your daily life. If you or a loved one has experienced shoulder issues that simply will not go away, the Memorial Hermann Joint Centers can help. As part of the Memorial Hermann Health System, we specialize in providing the Greater Houston area with compassionate, comprehensive health care. To learn more about how we treat shoulder pain, contact us today to get started or find a joint center location near you.